We’ve recently discussed a verse that Christians really need to understand: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Prov 1:7) If we don’t live our lives according to an understanding of Who the Lord is and what He has done, then we don’t really know Him. If we don’t really KNOW Him and have a personal relationship with Him, then we are are the wide road that leads to destruction. And we won’t know the truth, because the Lord hides His truth from those who choose to harden their hearts. If you haven’t read yesterday’s post, you might want to do that now (see God Reveals His Truth to the Humble).
This passage retold from Isaiah long before Jesus was born tells us who Jesus is, and that He came to be hope for all sinners, if we only believe and follow Him. “Look at My Servant, whom I have chosen. He is My Beloved, who pleases Me. I will put my Spirit upon Him, and He will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not fight or shout or raise His voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Finally He will cause justice to be victorious. And His name will be the hope of all the world.” (Matt 12:17-21)
With that in mind, let’s get into the Scripture that the Lord put on my heart today. “My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them, for they will refresh your soul. They are like jewels on a necklace. They keep you safe on your way, and your feet will not stumble. You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly. You need not be afraid of sudden disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, for the Lord is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.” (Prov 3:21-26)
In its simplest definition, discernment is the ability to decide between truth and error, right and wrong. Discernment is the process of making careful distinctions in our thinking about truth. In other words, the ability to think with discernment is synonymous with an ability to think biblically. God’s Word does not contradict itself, so to think with discernment is to study God’s Word to see if our thought process agrees with His absolute truth (Acts 17:11). Many will tell you that everyone has their own truth, but that’s just a lie from the father of lies, Satan himself!
To be discerning, we “must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will remain in fellowship with the Son and with the Father” (1 Jn 2:24). We are taught that it is a Christian’s responsibility to be discerning, “examine everything [according to God’s Word]; hold firmly to that which is good, abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thess 5:21-22), emphasis added. And here is the reason that we must learn to be discerning: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 Jn 4:1)
If we hold on to “common sense and discernment”, we are told it “will refresh our soul [and be]…like jewels on a necklace”. While wisdom implies the ability to act on knowledge, discretion is the capacity to closely assess something. A “wise” person is only truly wise if he fears the Lord. But if wise, they know how to apply their knowledge in a godly way. A “discerning” person is careful and precise in making decisions.
These two attributes bring the benefits of life and a good reputation. All who believe on Jesus as Savior receive abundant life (John 10:10). The life Jesus gives has energy and force; it is not stagnant but energetic to the benefit of all who witness it. It is like an attractive necklace that people observe with admiration. “My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them, for they will refresh your soul. They are like jewels on a necklace.”
As we continue to discuss the benefits we receive from keeping hold of “common sense and discernment”, we come to “They keep you safe on your way, and your feet will not stumble.” (v 23) It’s true that danger and hardship come even to those who honor God (Prov 3:25), but those who follow God’s will, and His plan, have much less risk and greater chance for success than those who rebel. When a person stumbles into sin, or strays from the path of God’s will, it can only be done by failing to hold to sound wisdom and discernment.
Even in the ancient day, fears and anxieties were a major disruption to one’s sleep. “You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly.” (v 24) Living wisely causes us to sleep soundly, because we know the Lord watches over us at night as well as during the day. Sleep comes more peacefully if we treasure the Lord’s promise to be with us always (Matt 28:20), but in order to treasure His promise, we must not “lose sight of common sense and discernment”.
This passage continues, “You need not be afraid of sudden disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, for the Lord is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap.” (vv 25-26) Scripture is clear that following the will of God does not magically prevent believers from hardship. This warning would be given because even those who believe will sometimes be faced with “the onslaught of the wicked”. Nothing harmful that takes God’s people by surprise should cause them to fear. If you stay in perpetual fear, you may be misplacing it (see Don’t Misplace Your Fear).
Our security rests with the Lord. He will protect us. No one will be able to trap us. When we trust in Jesus as our Savior, we are God’s children and His friends, but we also became targets of the Devil and the unregenerate world. The world hates us and opposes us, but we should not be surprised or dismayed (John 15:18–21).
We have the peace of mind which comes to those who follow godly wisdom and discretion. While our actions cannot save us (Eph 2:8–9), they do reflect our beliefs (James 2:18–20). Acting in accordance with godliness not only keeps us from the risks of sinful behavior (Prov 3:21–24), it enhances our reassurance that God is by our side (Heb 11:13–16). Don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment, and remember that Jesus and His name will be the hope of all the world! Amen!